Shell has announced that it plans to maintain oil production levels until 2030. Green campaigners were outraged at the news from the British energy giant. Climate activists were also aghast at the company’s massive payout for shareholders.
In 2021, based on output from 2019, Shell flagged a crude output reduction of between 1 and 2 % per year. This was supposed to be part of its carbon neutrality plan. However, on the 14 June the company said that production would remain stable until 2030. The Guardian reported that:
Shell will invest $40bn in oil and gas production between 2023 and 2035, compared with between $10bn and $15bn in “low-carbon” products.
A Shell spokesperson argued that this wasn’t a u-turn, saying:
Our target of a reduction in oil production by 2030 has not changed. We’ve just met it eight years early.
Of course, meeting a target to reduce oil production ahead of schedule is no reason to then maintain oil production. If Shell were actually committed to tackling the climate crisis, they’d make sure oil production continued to slow down.
Campaign group Global Witness labelled Shell’s announcement a “climate-wrecking U-turn”. Instead, they want Shell to invest far more in cleaner energy.
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Shell’s net profit rose to a company record $42.3bn last year. Jonathan Noronha-Gant, senior campaigner at Global Witness, said:
Record profits, off the back of the energy crisis should be boosting up green investment.
Instead, it’s shareholder payouts and a doubling down on climate-wrecking fossil fuels. It will always be profit over people and planet for polluters.
Shell also revealed it would pay out at least $5bn in share buybacks in the second half of this year following huge profits.
Shell insisted that its overall goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 remains intact, despite fierce criticism from environmental pressure groups.
Greenpeace UK senior climate advisor Charlie Kronick said:
From wildfires in Canada to drought and flooding in East Africa, the effects of climate change are already devastating lives and livelihoods around the world.
Yet Shell and their competitors remain determined to squeeze every last drop of profit from their dirty oil and gas operations.
Activist Greta Thunberg warned that failure to end use of fossil fuels will be a “death sentence” to millions worldwide. Thunberg urged politicians to take more ambitious action. She told a press conference:
It will be impossible for us to stick to the 1.5-degree limit without a rapid, equitable, fossil fuel phase-out.
She was referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement, where world leaders pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to prevent the Earth’s annual temperature rising by more than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celcius. It’s hoped that such an agreement will curb the most devastating effects of global warming.
Think tank Common Wealth’s director Adrienne Buller told openDemocracy:
Our energy system is geared toward extracting wealth, rather than sustainably meeting our energy needs. It needs to be radically reimagined.
Horrifyingly, Shell’s CEO Wael Sawan said:
Performance, discipline, and simplification will be our guiding principles as we allocate capital to enhance shareholder distributions, while enabling the energy transition.
The “energy transition” Sawan refers to here is just one of the many measured needed to halt the climate crisis which will decimate life on Earth as we know it, if left unchecked. Sawan is living a fantasy if he believes shareholder profits can go hand in hand with solving global warming. Once again, energy companies are putting profit over people and the planet.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
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